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Biden Administration Lets Worker-Visa Ban Expire

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Good news for foreign-born workers and employers: the Biden administration has allowed a pandemic-related ban on a handful of temporary-worker visas to expire. This move will make a wide swath of U.S. businesses very happy—the controversial ban was the subject of a lawsuit brought by several large business groups, including the National Association of Manufacturers and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. 

The Worker-Visa Ban

The ban on temporary-worker visas was implemented last June when the Trump administration issued the Proclamation Suspending Entry of Immigrants Who Present Risk to the U.S. Labor Market During the Economic Recovery Following the COVID-19 Outbreak. The ban covered temporary employment visas such as:  
  • H-1B
  • H-2B
  • L-1A
  • L-1B
  • Certain J-1 
The ban also encompassed corresponding visas such as the H-4, which are issued to the spouses of workers on H-1B visas, and the L-2, which is for spouses of employees on L-1A and L-1B visas. Originally, the ban was set to expire on December 31, 2020, but it was extended until March 31, 2021, before President Trump left office. 

What the Ban’s Expiration Means for Employers

The most notable element of the Biden administration allowing the proclamation to lapse is the end of the moratorium on H-1B visas, a temporary-worker visa for individuals in specialty occupations that require specialized knowledge. For example, H-1B visas are frequently used by technology companies to fill their ranks of coders and engineers.
Tech companies have been lobbying for the elimination of this ban since its implementation. In August, some of the nation’s tech giants—such as Amazon, Facebook, Apple, Microsoft, Netflix, and Twitter—signed a brief challenging it. It’s also been reported that there has been pressure on the Biden administration to lift the ban since taking office. 
Among the many benefits of the ban’s expiration is that it allows technology companies to access much-needed skilled employees. During the height of the pandemic, while many brick-and-mortar companies struggled, technology-based businesses thrived, outpacing the pool of qualified employees. A report from the National Foundation for American Policy (NFAP) shows job vacancy postings increased in computer-related positions by 11% as of March 2021.

Affected Visas Important to Other Industries  

High-skilled and high-profile visas like the H-1B, L-1A, and L-1B will steal headlines, but letting the ban expire also opens up H-2B visas—used to fill temporary, seasonal jobs in non-agricultural industries, like hospitality—before a busy summer season. Regionally, Maine businesses and lawmakers have already signaled the need for these important employees ahead of what looks likely to be a bustling tourist season.

Other Favorable Immigration Moves

Allowing the ban on temporary workers to expire comes on the heels of other favorable immigration policies from the Biden administration. At the beginning of March, they revoked the previous administration’s proclamation banning legal immigration for family members of U.S. citizens and residents. 

GoffWilson Immigration 

GoffWilson has long been a partner of employers seeking to access a global labor force. From securing H-1B visas to bring the world’s best and brightest minds to fill valuable, hard-to-place positions to ensuring access to much-needed seasonal workers, put our 30+ years of experience to work for you. Contact us today—immigration is what we do!
Filed under:H-1B Visa, Immigration Law